‘Manto’s lunatic’: My Punjab has no border, no limits

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As told to Nirupama Dutt

A poem of mine devoted to my homeland goes thus: “Punjab mera tan Duniya jidda, Punjab mera anhadd hai; iss vich sabho darya vehndey (My Punjab is as big as the whole world, it has no borders no limits; all the rivers flow in it). In other words, humanism and universalism is what true Punjabiat means to me. And none other than Baba Nanak is its icon that symbolises this sentiment the best. Though I have to cross the Wagha border – created by the Punjabis themselves – showing my British passport, but in my mindscape there is no border. I am Manto’s lunatic from ‘Toba Tek Singh’ and I never reconciled with the division of the Punjab.

I exist in Punjabi and I’ll die in it. I dream, think and feel in Punjabi. It is my last refuge against all odds. As my children don’t speak it, it’ll die with me. The poem ‘Lasan’ was written while I was flying back to Vancouver from California in 1988. There I had come across the word Lasan written in the Punjabi script on a huge billboard meant for woman farm workers, migrants from the Punjab. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times

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